Previous studies on return migration have stressed the propensity of returning migrants to invest primarily in household consumption; where ‘productive’ investments have taken place, these are usually seen to involve micro-enterprises that contribute little to development or poverty reduction. Yet development initiatives more broadly are increasingly orientated towards small enterprise development, often through the promotion of micro-credit for small entrepreneurs. Migration and return can be seen as a mechanism for providing capital for the development of small enterprises, particularly amongst poorer and less-skilled migrants. This paper uses results from a survey of international return migrants to Ghana undertaken in 2001 to explore the extent to which the processes of migration and return have contributed to development and poverty alleviation through the promotion of small businesses. It examines the role of acquisition of financial, human and social capital whilst abroad in contributing to enterprise development. It also considers the extent to which public policy incentives and constraints have affected the promotion of small enterprises amongst returning migrants, and suggests measures that could enhance this process.
Sussex Centre for Migration Research, University of Sussex, UK. Sussex Migration Working Paper no. 9, 23 pp.